Getting your baby to sleep through the night is something every parent looks forward to.
Even though newborns sleep 16 to 17 hours a day, they don’t stay asleep for more than two to four hours at a time, day or night, during the initial few weeks.
However, when babies reach 6 to 8 weeks of age, they start sleeping for shorter periods during the day and longer periods at night.
With a few minor adjustments and a little help from your end, your bundle of joy can easily learn to sleep through the night.
Expect your baby to protest in the beginning, but soon he or she will get used to the change. Sleep will then improve for everyone.
Here are the top 10 ways to get your baby to sleep all night.
1. Play White Noise Sounds
If any slight sound like clicking off a lamp or the sound of closing the door wakes your baby, then it’s time to play some white noise.
White noise is one of the most effective, easiest to implement, inexpensive sleep aids for babies. It helps mothers settle difficult babies within a few minutes.
It is similar to the sounds your baby heard 24/7 in the uterus. The familiar strong, rhythmic noise helps babies sleep longer and even reduces stress.
White noise masks other sounds and this helps your baby sleep through the night.
The sound of a fan can create a gentle hum, which works great as white noise. There are also free apps for white noise as well as white-noise machines in the market.
2. Feed Your Baby on Time
For many babies, the bedtime routine includes a proper feeding. This ensures that the baby goes to bed full and does not wake up due to hunger.
However, you must try to feed your baby at least 30 minutes before the scheduled bedtime at night. If your baby has started taking solid food, keep it light and healthy. Avoid anything that can cause gas or bloating.
If your baby is younger than 6 months old, make sure to burp your baby after feeding. Any trapped air in the stomach will make your baby uncomfortable and may lead to frequent crying at night.
Keep nighttime feeding quiet and calm, and daytime feeding more social and lively. This will help your baby learn the difference between day and night.
If your little one wakes up crying, wait for 10 minutes before offering the breast or bottle.
3. Follow a Bedtime Ritual
Small babies learn easily and following a consistent bedtime ritual will help your baby sleep longer.
Babies like predictability and a consistent bedtime routine provides them the right signal that it’s time to sleep. When a baby knows what is coming, he or she is more likely to accept it and settle down quickly.
Keep the bedtime routine simple. Start with a light massage, then a warm bath followed by clean clothes and a clean diaper. Play some soft music and give some warm hugs and cuddles to help your baby settle down. Soon your baby will associate these activities with sleep.
4. Keep the Lights Off
Just like you cannot sleep in a brightly lit room, your baby cannot either. Bright lights can be very distracting for your infant.
Keep the lights in your baby’s room on in the morning and during daytime naps, and don’t leave a light on at night.
Keeping the lights off or dimmed at night will help your baby learn the difference between daytime and night. This will also help regulate your baby’s circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock.
You can also use opaque shades to block outdoor light.
Even if you need to tackle a dirty diaper at night, do it with the lights dimmed, and with as little talking and interaction as possible.
5. Regulate the Room Temperature
As you cannot enjoy a sound sleep in a room that is too hot or too cold, you cannot expect anything different from your bundle of joy.
Try to create the right bedroom temperature and humidity to help your baby sleep soundly. A consistent bedroom temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of around 50 percent are considered ideal for babies.
Plus, if your baby looks sweaty, shed a layer of blankets or clothing. If your baby is feeling cold, make him or her comfortable by adding a layer.
Do not make the mistake of putting your warm baby in a cold bed. Babies do not like the instant change in temperature and it can make them irritated.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure the room where your baby is sleeping never gets too hot or too cold.
6. Put Your Baby Down Drowsy but Awake
Many parents make the mistake of rocking or nursing their babies to sleep and then quietly sneaking them into their cribs. This causes the babies to wake frequently at night, as they have no idea of how to fall back asleep on their own.
If you want your baby to sleep all night, put your baby down on the bed or crib when he or she is drowsy. This may sound silly, but it helps babies learn the skill of falling asleep on their own.
Drowsy but awake means the baby is calm, relaxed and frequently closing their eyes. When you lay your baby down, the eyes may flutter for a few seconds and soon he or she will drift off into peaceful sleep.
This trick is very helpful, but it may take a week for your baby to learn.
Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back, and clear the crib or bassinet of blankets and other soft items.
7. Keep a Proper Balance of Activity and Daytime Naps
It is important to encourage more activity during the day. When your baby is awake, you can talk, sing and play with him or her. This stimulation during the day will promote better sleep at night.
However, you must make sure that your baby is not overtired during the evening. This can make it harder for your baby to settle down easily at night.
A baby’s daytime routine is incomplete without a few short naps. Regular daytime naps will ensure that your baby is not overtired.
Two to three short daytime naps of 20 to 30 minutes is ideal. The last nap should not be too close to your baby’s scheduled bedtime.
Except for newborns, toddler’s napping should not surpass more than three hours total for a day.
8. Consider Room Sharing Rather Than Bed Sharing
Avoid bed sharing with a baby as it won’t help him or her learn the art of sleeping on their own.
Bed sharing can make it harder for babies to fall asleep by themselves. It may even increase your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Mothers should avoid breastfeeding their babies while lying down in bed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room sharing without bed sharing, which refers to a sleeping arrangement where the infant sleeps in the same room with the parents but on separate surfaces.
To ensure your baby’s safety, you can place the crib or bassinet in your bedroom. This way your baby will be close to you and, at the same time, some distance will be maintained. According to the AAP, room sharing can actually help reduce the risk of SIDS.
You can even consider putting a screen up between your bed and the baby’s crib or bassinet to ensure controlled comforting.
Having direct and constant access to a sleeping baby also can actually help parents sleep better.
9. Consider a Pacifier
Instead of nursing and rocking your baby to sleep, consider using a pacifier. The periodic movement of your baby’s mouth while using a pacifier helps the baby settle down quickly.
Moreover, using a pacifier during sleep helps reduce the risk of SIDS. A 2012 study published in Pediatrics in Review gives many tips on SIDS risk reduction and using a pacifier is one of them.
Make sure to offer a pacifier to your baby until he or she is 3 to 4 weeks old and you have settled into an effective nursing routine.
While sleeping, if the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth and he or she is not crying, there is no need to pop it back in. The baby will gradually learn to sleep without a pacifier.
When using a pacifier, parents need to wash and sterilize it daily to prevent an accumulation of germs on it. Plus, it’s a good idea to replace pacifiers regularly.
10. Prefer the Same Bedtime
Especially when it comes to getting your baby to sleep all night, parents’ should opt for the same bedtime. Any change in your baby’s bedtime routine can make the baby irritated and fussy.
Maintaining the same bedtime helps develop the baby’s internal clock, which regulates day and night hormone cycles.
Do not make the mistake of pushing your baby’s bedtime, hoping he or she will sleep a little longer the next morning. Moreover, it can make your baby overtired, which will make it even more difficult for your baby to settle down.
A scheduled bedtime and the same routine helps your baby predict that it’s time to sleep. The baby will automatically start showing “sleep signals” in the form of eye rubbing, yawning and slowing down.
- Every baby is different, so what works for your baby may not work for another baby.
- It may take 3 to 14 days to change a baby’s sleep patterns.
- If your baby wakes at night, wait a few minutes before going in the room. Many babies fuss and whine a little bit and soon go back to sleep on their own.
- You must learn to respect your baby’s preferences and accordingly make adjustments in routines and schedules.
- Keep your baby’s sleep environment free of quilts, comforters, pillows and other soft items, such as toys.
- Do not put infants on waterbeds, air mattresses, pillows, soft materials or loose bedding, even temporarily.
- Always remember that any kind of makeshift bed is not safe for your baby.
- Make sure your baby sleeps in a smoke-free environment.
- Avoid covering your baby’s head or overheating while sleeping.